A Surprise Party! – Luke 2:8-14 12/12/21

A Surprise Party! – Luke 2:8-14 12/12/21


Here we are, now in the third Sunday of Advent, and we should stop for a moment to take stock. The theme today is joy. And yet, we’re in a pandemic that feels as if it will never end. We are more politically divided than I can ever remember. There are tensions and divisions within the Church as we arrive at very different conclusions about what is true and what is not. And then, just for the fun of it, inflation is higher than it’s been for decades… and that directly impacts virtually every aspect of our lives.


And… it is in the face of these realities that today we acknowledge “joy.” Frankly, our reaction to what our passage tells us only produces the desired affect if we choose to allow it to do so. Our text today introduces us to joy in light of the coming Savior of the world; Luke 2:8-14.


Normally, shepherds would be found in the fields with their flocks in the months of March through November, more or less.[1] Now, we need to avoid romanticizing these people.[2] The fact is the Jews held shepherds in low esteem.[3] As a general rule, shepherds were considered to be a dishonest group. Living as they did, outside much of the time, meant they were a pretty dirty group. What’s more, one result of their vocation was they were almost continually unclean according to the standards of the Mosaic Law.[4] But these are the ones the angels appeared to; Luke 2:8-9.


Apparently, this outcast class of people were selected by the Sovereign God to serve as a practical illustration of what the coming Savior would accomplish, which would be to reach out to those of low status.[5] These people represent the outcasts and sinners of society, the very ones Jesus came to save;[6] Mark 2:17.


Out of the blue, an (ἄγγελος Κυρίου) “an angel of the Lord” appears.[7] But the angel isn’t simply appearing. In order to affirm his message there’s a dazzling display of the glory of the Lord.[8] Now, don’t gloss over this. It doesn’t say that the angels were glowing or glorious, it says that the glory of the Lord was present. It’s as if the Father, the proud Father of the Son, is standing there with His messengers, the angels.


This is the inauguration of the time of messianic salvation.[9] This is the fulfillment of the well-known prophecy in Isaiah 9:6. But the angels tell us this Child is more than simply a political or military leader. Jesus is identified as the Savior, but He is more than just another deliverer such as was found in the judges of Israel, He is (ὅς ἐστιν Χριστὸς Κύριος) “who is Christ, the Lord.”[10]


The text says that the angels were proclaiming a message of joy; Luke 2:10. What is it, and why was Jesus’ coming a cause for such joy? First, what did the angel mean when he used the word “joy” (χαραν)[11] [chărăn]? This word is a noun, here in the accusative case which typically marks it as the direct object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.[12] In this case, it is the direct object of the verb which is, “I bring good news” (ευαγγελιζομαι).[13] In general, it conveys gladness, or a state of rejoicing.[14] It is to “rejoice,” “experience joy,” or “merriness.”[15] It even conveys the idea of “delight.”[16]


Now, if we take this as merriness or delight, we need to think: what’s happening that might cause such a response? The text tells us, but we’re so familiar with this passage that it’s lost its punch! Luke 2:11. This one statement is laced with reasons for joy. First, we find the fulfillment of prophesy with this birth; Isaiah 9:6. This is the promise that God is in control, but mysteriously, He will address the problems of this world through the birth of a Child, actually, THE Child. Embedded in this prophesy is a little statement that would be easy to miss, yet its significance is of eternal importance. A Son is given.


What’s He given to do? Isaiah 53:10. He’s given as an offering for sin. This little statement, “A Son is given” points us back to the angel’s announcement, “there is born to you” someone who would do the unimaginable. This Baby is the Savior. Now, what exactly is a Savior? The word in Greek is (σωτηρ).[17] A (σωτηρ) [sōtēr] is one who rescues or saves.[18] It refers to one who saves another out of serious peril.[19]


But we’re told more about this Savior, He is “Christ the Lord.” Now this word “Christ” (Χριστος)[20] [Chrĭstŏs] is, of course, the Greek word for our English word “Christ.” Most of you are aware that Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” But… have you thought about what it means? (Χριστος)[21] literally means, “Anointed One” and it’s the official title of the Savior.[22] Over time, actually over a very short period of time, Jesus’ name was so closely associated with the title “Christ” (Χριστος)[23] [Chrĭstŏs] that it was simply used as a part of His name.[24] He is Jesus Christ.


This title is linked to the following title, “the Lord” (Κυριος)[25] [Kyrios]. Our understanding of who Jesus is can only be understood in light of what the Hebrew Scriptures introduce to us.[26] This title ties Jesus’ claims as Lord to the Lord of the Old Testament, YHWH.[27] In Greek, Lord means the person to whom a person or thing belongs, the One who has the power of deciding their fate; that is, the master or the Lord.[28] But when applied to Jesus the word conveys more than that; Joel 2:32. Then, what we discover is that Jesus now accomplishes what the Lord, YHWH of the Hebrew Scriptures, promised to do;[29] Romans 10:9.


Now, I realize many of us are in tough circumstances. We’ve had a rash of heartbreaking deaths. There has been illness, there have been mandates issued that are, at a minimum, irritating and make no sense. Some, maybe even many, of them are just plain wrong. In the stress of this mix, marriages are struggling. Some are dealing with a deep sense of isolation.


And yet, if we truly understand the message delivered by the angels, there is indeed reason for joy; Luke 2:10-11. Through this passage we’re reminded that God remains in control, and that because of that, we know that the end of the day will result in unspeakable joy. We know that this world and all of its trials are passing away, and with it will go the hurt, the loss, and the sorrow. The result is joy. We know that the broken marriages reflect broken people, and these too, will be healed. The result is joy.


His sending His Son into the world is exactly what the angels are talking about. The message is, P.S., I love you. If we understand the truth of that, and the significance of that, it should produce joy.

[1] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108. [2] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108. [3] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St. Luke, vol. 1, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 38. [4] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108. [5] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., St. Luke, vol. 1, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 38. [6] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108. [7] John Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, vol. 35A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1989), 106. [8] John Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, vol. 35A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1989), 106. [9] Robert H. Stein, Luke, vol. 24, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 108. [10] John Nolland, Luke 1:1–9:20, vol. 35A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1989), 107. [11]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:10. [12] Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013). [13]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:10. [14] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). [15] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 1299. [16] Alexander Souter, A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917), 281. [17]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:11. [18] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 240. [19] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 1132. [20]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:11. [21]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:11. [22] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 202. [23]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:11. [24] R.H. Stein, Jesus Christ, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 629. [25]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Lk 2:11. [26] I.H. Marshall, Jesus Christ, in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity and Diversity of Scripture, eds., T. Desmond Alexander, Brian Rosner, D.A. Carson, and Graeme Goldsworthy, (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.: 2000), 592-593. [27] R.H. Stein, Jesus Christ, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 629. [28] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [29] R.H. Stein, Jesus Christ, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 629.

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